Minneapolis, MN – The YMCA of the North, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, provides water safety tips to help kids, teens, adults and families enjoy lakes, rivers and pools during the Fourth of July holiday and throughout the summer months.

As we continue to manage the pandemic and staffing shortages, water safety is important with up to two years of missed swim lessons, fewer pools with lifeguards, limited access to swimming lessons, more families spending time outside around the water and pools in backyards.

Safety tips to practice in and around the water include below:

  • Never swim alone.
  • Lifeguarded beaches and pools provide another layer of safety besides parental supervision. They also ensure water chemistry/beach water has been tested and is safe.
  • Constantly and actively watch children by a responsible an adult.
  • Always keep young children or non-swimmers within arm’s reach of parent or guardian.
  • Remember inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Be wary of inflatables because a poke or blown valve can turn into a dangerous situation quickly for a child relying on it to float.
  • Don’t engage in breath holding activities.
  • Don’t jump in the water to save a friend who is struggling in any water rather use a long object to reach for them and pull them to safety.
  • Enroll children and non-swimmers in water safety or swim lessons.
  • Be mindful of the hazards of backyard pools with standing water around because kids can fall down or can’t get out and infants or preschoolers can climb or crawl in. To be safe:
    • Install barriers around the pool like a fence.
    • Know CPR.
    • Guarantee that every child in the backyard pool who cannot swim wears a U.S. Coastguard approved lifejackets.
    • Provide constant supervision.
    • Make sure there is a way to climb out of the pool if it’s too tall to step out of.
  • Keep kids safe when adults are also engaged in fun is incredibly important. A simple tip for parents near any kind of water this summer is to take the Water Watcher pledge. As a Water Watcher, an adult agrees to:
    • Maintain constant visual contact with the children in the group.
    • Not drink alcohol, talk on the phone, socialize or read while watching children.
    • Keep a phone near the water for emergency purposes only.
    • Remain by the water until relieved by a new water watcher.

“The YMCA is committed to saving lives through water safety programs and education,” said Glen Gunderson, president for the Y. “Each year our Y reaches over 2,000 people through the Safety Around Water program alone. Thanks to partnerships with USA Swimming Foundation, YMCA of USA, Delta Air Lines and Hawkins Inc., we are able to offer this program free of charge so all can access life-saving lessons and skills.”

The YMCA Safety Around Water program and traditional swim lessons teaches youth what they need to do to stay safe in pools, lakes and rivers. In addition to learning what to do if a friend is in trouble, youth develop skills to help if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly:

  • Jump, Push, Turn and Grab – teaches a child to push off the bottom of the pool as they are submerging to get back up to the surface and turn to grab the side of the pool.
  • Swim, Float, Swim – teaches children to swim a short distance on their front, roll over on their back to rest, and then roll on their front to continue swimming to safety.

Gunderson added that parents are encouraged to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming. The Y offers several programs promoting the benefits of swimming.

Water Skills and Safety at the Y

  1. Y Swim Lessons June Through August: The Y’s swim lessons for infants, kids and teens are the most accessible community resource to prevent drowning and encourage a lifelong enjoyment of swimming. The Y serves all ages in the pool from six months to adults. The YMCA offers a limited amount of discounted swim lessons each year and people can apply online at www.ymcanorth.org/freelessons.
  2. Competitive Swim: YMCA competitive swimming and diving teams are the natural progression from Safety Around Water and Y Swim Lessons by encouraging children and teens to continue their love of swimming while providing an ideal environment for cognitive, physical and social-emotional development. 
  3. Lifeguards and Swim Instructors: The YMCA offers free paid training and job opportunities to help teach the community how to be safe in and around the water.

Because the Y is a leading nonprofit committed to helping all young people and their families thrive, financial assistance is available to those in need. To learn more about the Y’s programs, please visit www.ymcanorth.org.

About the YMCA of the North

The YMCA of the North is a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Established 167 years ago, the Ys provide life-strengthening services across the greater Twin Cities metro region, southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin communities. The 29 Y locations and program sites, eight overnight camps, 10 day camps, and more than 90 child care sites engage more than 370,000 men, women and children of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. To learn more about the Y’s mission and work, visit www.ymcanorth.org.